Capoeira Movie-Only the Strong, My Experience

What’s up Galera! It’s O Rei, and I’m back with an epic story of my experience of the movie, “Only the Strong”. Ha, ha! Thanks to Fabio Ventania Ramalho for the photoshop skills. He sent me that on my birthday  a couple years ago for a prank. Anyway, the first time that I ever heard of Capoeira back in 1993 and it is an interesting story.

“Only the Strong” stars Mark Decascos and Mestre Amen Santo. For those of you all who never have heard of this movie, it is, I believe the first time in Hollywood that Capoeira is featured as the main martial art. There are several Brazilian movies that, of course, feature Capoeira, but none from the old U.S. of A.

This movie of course was instrumental in exposing millions of people to the art of Capoeira, and if you haven’t seen it, then make sure that you that you look it up and watch it Here is a Youtube video of the movie if it’s still active by the time you read this.

Mestre Amen (Joselito Santo)…I feel weird saying his real name because of the respect that I have for him. I’m used to just calling him “Mestre”. I’ve met him several times in my Capoeira career and I’d like to say he’s my good friend, but really I only get to see him every couple years and as you might imagine he meets 1,00’s of people every year. with his Capoeira travel and being in the entertainment industry.

He was the brains behind “Only the Strong” and I explain in my first book, “Ginga and Grow Strong”, that I was s first introduced to Capoeira by watching this movie back in 1993. I think it went straight to DVD or straight to TNT, ha!

It was horrible…I loved it.

Bad acting, cheesy 80’s wardrobe, D-list cast, plot holes, and other un-notables…

I was 14 years old, a freshman in high school, going through 2-a-days football practice in Texas. I think m y little brother, Domesy, introduced me to it.

He was 8 years old and would man the TV, video games, and cable so on the weekends I would catch up on all the cheesy movies he watched all week. That’s what happened this particular weekend when I  laid down to watch some tube after a hard week of school and football practice.

I thought “Only the Strong” was a Hollywood invention.

Why would anyone dance while they were fighting?

Ha! Well, after finding out 12 years later what the history was, I knew why someone would dance when they fight.

The truth is this movie is awesomely cheesy…But…it’s the first time that Capoeira was featured as the main martial art in a Hollywood movie.

It wasn’t until almost 8 years later that when waiting tables at Chili’s in college, that I saw a group of students come into the restaurant wearing white pants and shirts that said “Capoeira” on it. I thought to myself, “It is real”. Then about 4 years later once I graduated college and was 30 pounds heavier, I hauled myself into the first Capoeira studio that called me back. I loved it, and the rest is history, my friends.

It was all because I saw “Only the Strong”, and those Capoeira students who came into Chili’s. I lost 30 pounds, gained daily energy, started hanging out with a better crowd, found better jobs, opened my own business, became an author, then became a best selling author. Now I have followers all around the world. Not to brag, but it feels extremely good coming from being an overweight father with no prospects.

…And I can’t promise that you ‘ll be a successful business man, or best selling author, but… I can promise that you will get in the best shape of your life, and have more energy to pursue other life goals that you want to accomplish. That happens after work, after your obligations, after your daily grind. Then you do the EXTRA work to get what you want.

Like any movie, a happy ending comes after hard work to resolve a struggle or journey. That’s exactly what happened to me. Just like Santo over came the trouble making kids and drug dealing thugs, I have overcame obesity,a near death car wreck, the loss of my house, job, and security. But with perseverance, no goal or dream is too big. Until next time, galera.


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